New York City program focuses on repairing and selling ‘zombie homes’, potentially targeting low- and middle-income families

New York — The thousands of abandoned and affordable homes that are an eyesore in urban neighborhoods could quickly become a beacon of hope in a tight real estate market.

CBS2’s Lisa Rosner details “House of Zombies” and takes an exclusive look at the city program that’s expanding to turn them around from Queens, Jamaica.

For over a decade, Rosemary Gadson has watched 170th Street homes collapse. The roof is damaged and the foundation is cracked.

“It’s just devastated and nobody’s done anything about it,” Gadson said.

Records show that the building was sold in 2009 and likely fell victim to the subprime mortgage crisis, like a house on nearby 160th Street.

Many houses from that era (2007-2010) make up the zombie homes found throughout the five governorates.

State law defines a zombie home as one to four homes that are abandoned, vacant, and 90 days or more in mortgage delinquency.

“It devalues ​​other people’s homes,” said Gudson.

Rozner saw one of 1,200 zombie homes in the city’s zombie home database, but officials estimate there may actually be around 2,000 zombie homes.

Business Insider’s economics reporter Alcinna Lloyd said New York has the most in the country.

“We’re seeing an increase in evictions as well as foreclosures,” Lloyd said. “There are a lot of zombie houses, especially in areas with high concentrations of people of color.”


New York’s Zombie Act, passed in 2016, creates an online database of zombie homes and holds mortgage owners accountable for maintaining their properties. Failure to do so could result in him being fined up to $500 per day by local authorities.

“The lender has not received any interest payments or debt repayments and is now asking us to repair and maintain the homes we do not own,” said real estate agent Sam Liebman. Expert.

“Now the bank has to take ownership of the property before it can repair it.So they have to go through the court system and the court system is backed up.One solution is If the court documents say it’s a zombie house, we can get these houses back into service by quickly processing them through our system.”

New York City has reached a milestone of collecting over $1 million in fines.

Chris Servidio of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development gave examples from CBS2 of chipped paint, freestanding structures, and unintended access roads that could attract critters.

“We typically collect $100 to $200 per day,” said Servidio, HPD’s deputy director of tenant engagement and special projects.

After being fined nearly $20,000 over two years, HPD told CBS2 that the lender had remodeled the 189th Street home, installed boards in the windows, put padlocks on the house, and marked who owned the home. I showed you how to post a signboard.

The enforcement program began as a pilot in 2017, and HPD told CBS2 exclusively that it will be made permanent.

The long-term goal is to get zombies and bring them to life. This will allow low- and middle-income New Yorkers to buy zombies.

Chantella Mitchell, executive director of HPD’s Homeownership Initiative, said:

She mentions partners like Restored Homes, which acquired the housing estates around 105th Street. The previous owner took out a federal loan but was unable to pay it.

Restored Homes executive director Salvatore D’Avola showed Rozner one of them.

“There are three bedrooms and one and a half baths on this floor,” he said.

Within months, a two-family home will be available for nearly $640,000 through an affordable housing lottery administered by HPD. That’s more than $200,000 below market rates, according to Treasury Department records.

“When was the last time you sold?” Rosner asked D’Avola.

“Two years ago, we had over 2,000 applicants for the 23 units in that cluster,” he said.

Another ready to move sells for about $475,000, nearly $200,000 below market value.Yvonne Berrios has lived next door for 10 years.

“We moved in, bought a house, and it was vacant. Bad, bad, bad, bad,” Berrios said. “The drug addict came in before they fixed it.”

After years of searching, veteran Anthony Coker won the lottery in 2019. He currently owns the one-bedroom He Mitchell-Lama Co-op in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

“I’m stable, so I know I won’t have to move again,” Coker said. can meet.”

We also help families stay in the community and help apply for the upcoming homeownership lottery through the nonprofit Restoration Plaza.

“We’re already seeing people moving in, especially families of color, who grew up here in Bed-Stuy, in central Brooklyn,” Coker said.

Gadson said owning one is a dream.

“I always walk past it and say, ‘I want that house,'” Mr. Gudson said, adding, “Because it’s a good neighborhood. The church is here and the people are nice.”

And it may be only a matter of time before the city turns from devastation to light.

According to New York City, zombie homes make up less than 1% of New York City multifamily housing, but that number could rise due to planned enforcement expansions.

Christina Waley, executive director of the New York Mortgage Bankers Association (NYMBA), told CBS2: At the statewide level through the Zombies Act of 2016. Still, there is an opportunity to improve its impact and enforcement.

“The foreclosure process in New York State is one of the longest in the country and continues to be a major concern for the NYMBA and its members. While it can now be done quickly, the state court system has not adopted a consistent procedure for transferring these cases, reducing the intended benefits. Zombie 2016 Mortgage investors and insurers such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD, despite complying with the law’s asset retention requirements, have lengthened their foreclosure time frames. cause unnecessary harm.

“The NYMBA hopes to work with all stakeholders to explore opportunities to improve the foreclosure process and the impact of the Zombies Act of 2016 for the betterment of communities across New York State. “

The New York Mortgage Bankers Association said the program would be more profitable if the state’s court system expedited foreclosure proceedings. It said it was a “grave concern” that it would now take longer in New York than in most other states. New York City program focuses on repairing and selling ‘zombie homes’, potentially targeting low- and middle-income families

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